I love cooking, but I rarely follow recipes the second time around. If I don't know how to make something, I look for a recipe, follow it to the letter, and then every other time I make it, I tweak it so it fits my taste – and sometimes the Better Half's, too! I think every cook works that way, whether they're an amateur or a professional. For me, cooking is largely a hobby, but I do it with gusto – and I'm not stingy about it, either! Not only will I feed everyone, but here are some of my favorite secret recipes that I'd like to share with you, as well!
1. Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup is pretty standard, and I think everyone has their own personal recipe, whether it's newly discovered or passed down from family. You may make your stock yourself, buy it, or use a combination of the two. Some people choose potatoes over noodles, and some people like spaghetti noodles or egg noodles. Either way, here's my magical tip for this favorite secret recipe: saute some fresh garlic and thyme in a little olive oil after the stock is made, and then drop it in. The olive oil gives it an incredible, but subtle flavor, in addition to making the most of both the garlic and the thyme.
2. Beef Tips
People also do beef tips any number of ways, though I always start out with stock and then cook it down to gravy. Sometimes I use beef bouillon, sometimes a seasoning packet, it depends on how much time I have. I have two tips for this recipe, however. First of all, whenever possible, do brown your tips in flour and olive oil. Secondly, add in some prepared horseradish. I like a lot, so you get a spicy, kicky little aftertaste. It's sublime!
3. Fresh Asparagus
I love fresh asparagus more than anything. I'll even eat it raw. This recipe is simple: cut off the tough ends, warm up a pan of extra virgin olive oil, throw in some fresh, minced garlic or garlic powder, then throw in your asparagus. Salt and pepper, not too much saute – you want them to still be green – and voila! Heaven!
Here is another of my favorite secret recipes, involving hamburgers. This one's pretty simple. I just like cheese in the middle! Swiss, American, cheddar, even fresh mozzarella, it really doesn't matter. Just pop it in the middle after your patties are made, and enjoy! Put some minced onions in the mix for some serious taste.
I adore custard. I'll confess, I rarely make it from scratch, exactly – but Jello Cook & Serve kind of counts, right? The last few times I made it, I substituted the recipe. Rather than using 2 cups of milk, I used 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, plus one egg yolk. Oh yes, I said heavy whipping cream. It makes for a really thick, rich, delicious custard, and has no appreciable affects on either cooking time or the way the mixture sets.
6. Pulled Pork
This is one of my absolutely favorite secret recipes, so guard it with your life! I love pulled pork sandwiches in the summer, and it lasts for days, making it easy to throw together a dinner when it gets too hot to want to cook something new. I make mine in the crock pot, using pork butt – it's cheaper. Here's the only thing you need to know: cover your butt with root beer. You can go ahead and slather some barbecue sauce on top, but it needs to simmer in the root beer. I know it sounds gross, but give it a taste when you're ready to start pulling it, before you actually mix in all of that saucy goodness. Moist, delicious, and it falls apart at the slightest provocation!
I'm a huge baker, and although I know that's all about precision, I still find some time to get really original. This secret is simple, too. You're going to think I'm crazy, but I promise it's good. Whip up some heavy whipping cream – not too stiff, but don't leave any liquid. Then fold it into your mix and bake as always. Why? Because you end up with huge, fluffy, fudge like brownies that last for days!
I don't mind giving away my favorite secret recipes, because I like it when people enjoy food. My dream is to someday be a serious gourmet – maybe even a gourmand! So, in the spirit of things, are there any secret recipes you'd like to divulge, too?
Top Photo Credit: Garry Choo